January is the month of Burgundy En Primeur and over the course of the month we will be releasing wines from producers right across the region. If you want a little introduction to Burgundy then read this first. before diving into any of the producer pages. I was fortunate to visit Burgundy in October and tasted at more than a dozen cellars up and down the Côte d’Or. The feature vintage is 2019 and it’s a fantastic year to either add to or begin a Burgundy collection. This is a genuinely superb vintage, ideal for ageing, and unusually its great for both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Volumes, as ever, are small and buying en primeur can be the only way to guarantee access to quite a lot of these wines. As much as possible we are promoting wines that I have tasted and therefore recommend. Anything not tasted will be clearly indicated – with a good reason as to why we’re buying it.
Kicking off our campaign are the stunning and ethereally perfumed wines of Ghislaine Barthod. Her Chambolle-Musigny wines are to die for and yet volumes are tiny across the range. You will also be able to acquire wines from Philglas & Swiggot favourites Jean-Paul and Benoît Droin (Chablis,) Domaine Jean Grivot (Vosne-Romanee and Nuits-Saint-Georges), Domaine de Montille(numerous villages), Stéphane Magnien (Morey-Saint-Denis andChambolle-Musigny), as well as a number of other producers that are either new to Philglas & Swiggot or less frequently available. These include Hubert Lamy (Saint Aubin), Jean-Philippe Fichet (Meursault), Fernand et Laurent Pillot (Chassagne-Montrachet), Eric Forest (Pouilly-Fuissé), Jean Chauvenet (Nuits-Saint-Georges), Michel Gros (Vosne-Romaneé)and Marc Roy (Gevrey-Chambertin) and more.
If you’re interested in learning more or are keen to buy then email email@example.com with your questions and/or order, or leave a note in the comment box and we will get back to you. We have a report on the vintage and more specific information on each of the featured growers.
The history of the Latour-Giraud goes back over three centuries and is today run by Jean-Pierre Latour. The Domaine holds 10 hectares of prime vineyards in Meursault, roughly split into 80% white wines and 20 % reds. The majority of their white vines are located in the five most famous vineyards of the village Meursault: Les Genevrières, Les Charmes, Les Perrières, Les Bouchères et Le Poruzot, and with 2 hectares in the 1er Cru Genevrières, Latour-Giraud is the most important owner of this superb vineyard. Low yields, brilliant winemaking and no fining or filtration, make this one of the most exciting domaines in the village at present
Their Meursault Cuvée Charles Maxime (a blend of Les Vireuils, Les Corbins and Les Pelles) is plump, rich and generous. The wine is fermented and matured in barrel (around 1/3 new) for 15-16 months.
Alexandrine Roy has managed her family Domaine in Gevrey-Chambertin since 2003, a 4th generation grower with a collection of 3.5 hectares of tiny parcels, all at the village level. Her plots are all very old vines (45-100+ years), meticulously farmed by her own hands and managed organically. With careful selection, total destemming, gentle winemaking and low levels of new oak she coaxes Premier Cru quality out of her parcels.
Her Gevrey-Chambertin 'Clos Prieur' is a magnificent parcel of 60 year old vines, on iron-rich clay over limestone, below Mazis-Chambertin. Sees 30% new oak and exhibits a deep core of gorgeous, dense, spicy dark fruits and a plush, sensual texture.
François Raquillet is an 11th generation vigneron and having run the family domaine for 30 years he is vastly experienced, and recognised as, possibly, the best producer in the village of Mercurey. His daughter Jeanne joined the business marking the start of the 12th generation.
The domaine holds 10 hectares of superbly sited, mostly old, vines. François believes in low yields, mature (rather than super-ripe) fruit and a severe selection at the table de tri (sorting table). The depth, richness and concentration which characterise his wines are a result of this, rather than any over extraction
The Mercurey Vieilles Vignes, from 3 parcels of 60 year old vines (1-3 year old barrels) is delicious, juicy and seductive, whilst the 1er Crus have even more depth, richness and potential longevity. Les Veleys is a 0.8 hectare plot of 60 year old vines in the sector of Chamirey, on heavier marne soils (30% new oak).
As I have written before, this domaine, presided over by the genial François Raquillet, produces some of the best red wines in Mercurey—and in all of the Côte Chalonnaise. (...) The latest news is that Raquillet is abandoning herbicides, returning to cultivating the soils—a development I warmly applaud. Robert Parker, www.robertparker.com
The Gros are an illustrious, vigneron family on the Côte de Nuits, and Michel is the oldest sibling to Anne, both of whom run their own domaines (with distinct plots), and separately to the family domaine Gros Frère & Soeur. While they all have their own ideas, a common thread is that the Gros wines are full of pleasure and richness which can sometimes distract from the undoubted quality of their vineyard holdings.
Michel was a pioneer of the Hautes-Côtes appellation, a cooler area on the Burgundy plateau which has become more popular and highly regarded over recent, warm vintages. His methods have been noted for their unconventional nature, as he loves to experiment with blending, fractionating and modifying temperature during winemaking and early maturation. Yet tasting his wines there is nothing but dazzling purity, pinpoint freshness and marvellously creamy tannins
A top echelon producer and one of the most sought-after names in Burgundy. Etienne Grivot has made the wine for many years and the family have built up a simply superb collection of vineyard holdings in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-St-Georges and in Chambolle-Musigny. Grivot is a master of tannin ripeness and he is not afraid to harvest a week or even ten days later than some of his neighbours to ensure full phenolic, maturity even in these recent warm growing seasons. The genius of his wines is that the extra ripening lends the wines the most glorious flavours, rich and powerful yet never overdone and the wines don’t seem to lack for freshness.
The succession to the next generation is now well underway, with Mathilde and Hubert increasingly influential, under their father’s experienced and wise guidance.
Ghislaine’s Barthod’s wines are masterfully balanced, well-known for their finesse and tannin quality. Chambolle-Musigny is renowned for the aromatic lift it gives to Pinot Noir, perhaps more so than any other village in Burgundy. She fully destems her Pinot Noir and uses a short cold soak – these steps accentuate extraction of colour over tannin and perfume over richness. No more than 30% new oak is used on any of the wines and they receive a relatively long élevage in oak of 18 months.
Ghislaine Barthod’s domaine originated in the 1920s with Marcel Noëllat whose daughter married Gaston Barthod, a soldier stationed in Dijon who came to buy some wine and got the girl as well. He gave up military life for the vineyards in 1960. His daughter, Ghislaine, and her partner Louis Boillot bought their current premises in Gevrey-Chambertin 1986. The domaine has an incomparable range of Chambolle- Musigny terroirs, with eleven separate Premier Cru bottlings as well as highly-regarded Bourgogne and Village wines.
Ghislaine and Louis’s son Clément is now working closely with his parents and taking a greater share of the winemaking duties each year, and he guided me through the cellar tasting the 2019s. Picking began here on the 10th of September, with modest alcohol levels for the vintage, ranging between 13.5 and 13.8. What is really impressive here is the clear identity of each wine and the beautiful texture which comes from perfectly ripe tannins.
~ Justin Knock MW
The Droin brothers are the 14th generation of their family to make wine, with a history in Chablis reaching back exactly 400 years, so it’s reasonable to assume they know their business. And with vineyard holdings in almost every Grand Cru and Premier Cru, and significant parcels across Chablis and Petit Chablis they transcend the region like no other producer.
Our access to their wines continues to improve and I was able to taste across the entire 2019 range in October 2020 with Benoît. My overall impression is that this is a great vintage that has everything. There is fruit power and pleasure, but nothing over the top. Flavours cover orchard and citrus (when I taste lemons, I’m in love) and the hallmark chalk-mineral notes of Chablis (sometimes you swear you can smell oysters or the sea) is there in spades. The concentration in the wines suggest most if not all will improve with 5 years and more in the cellar. Yet Benoît’s wines are always fantastic at any age.
~ Justin Knock MW